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McCain to try to join Foreign Relations Committee ahead of Secretary of State hearings


UPDATED 3:35 PM ET: This could make for very interesting Secretary of State confirmation hearings.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tells the foreign policy blog The Cable at the Manama Security Dialogue that he is going to be joining the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the same committee that will be holding the confirmation hearings for whomever President Obama nominates to replace Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

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McCain's office confirms to NBC News that the story is accurate, as are the quotes in it. Communications Director Brian Rogers notes, however, that the Arizona Republican has "expressed interest" but the decision is not yet final.

"Senator McCain has expressed interest in joining the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but no final decisions on committee assignments have been made," Rogers said.

Two aides to the Foreign Relations Committee also tell NBC News that they are unaware of McCain's intention to join the committee -- so far.

"We have not heard anything of the sort," a Republican aide said. But the aide couldn't rule it out only saying, "We haven't had committee elections yet."

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice is reportedly a finalist for Secretary of State. McCain has been a main critic of Rice's, stemming from her appearances on Sunday shows following the attacks in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including an ambassador.

But McCain's move may not be all about Rice. Because of Republican Conference rules, he is term-limited as ranking member of the Armed Services Committee. Foreign Relations is up his alley. 

McCain last week told NBC's Kelly O'Donnell that he was interested in joining Foreign Relations now that his six-year term as the ranking member of Armed Services was up.

That said, despite McCain's seniority, he has no intention of challenging Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) for the top minority leadership spot on Foreign Relations. And he has never served on Foreign Relations since winning election to the Senate in 1986. He served just two years (one Congress) on Foreign Affairs while a member of the House before that.

Of Rice, McCain told The Cable: "I'll wait and see if she's nominated and we'll move on from there. She has the right to have hearings. We'll see what happens in the hearings."